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Christmas was a huge family turnout as usual, but things were not the same when a family member was called to serve his country in World War II. Andrew (Jigs) came home for Christmas furlough. There was both happiness and sadness. There were so many grandchildren that there were not enough chairs and beds were used as comfortable seats.
On would say to the other, “What did Santa bring you?” Most of us had our Christmas on Christmas Eve in order to give us time to enjoy the gifts. As usual there wasn’t room for toys at Grandpa’s house with all of us.
Mrs. Lillie always made stack apple cake. The cinnamon used on the cake smelled so good. She also made huge tea cakes for snacks and would give us one or two. The cookie lid got opened, but a mouse didn’t do it. The pinto beans and turnip greens were so good.
The huge white home comfort stove kept the kitchen warm as wood had to be kept within to cook the food, and there was a large compartment that heated the water to wash dishes or help out with your bath.
Beulah cooked the ham that was hand salted and smoked. She also made candy and cakes.
It was custom that men ate first. Beulah saw that we also got to eat then by the kitchen stove or the long table on the back porch.
The wood pantry was covered with wallpaper, kept clean and neat with dry wood and kindling brought in each night.
The strings of red pepper in the kitchen window got my eye. They were used to put into soups and such.
After a meal, all the dishes were removed immediately washed, rinsed, and put away. The tablecloth was shiny oil cloth. You just wiped it off and the flowers and rooster designs remained.
Shortly after the big meal, a three hundred pound visitor was in the toilet. Another person had to go and opened the door. The man said, “Pardon me. Are you in a hurry!” They had inside toilets at night called slop jars and they had to be emptied and cleaned every morning.
The women enjoyed their Bruton Snuff while washing dishes. It was amazing how they held it in the mouth without spitting.
The Christmas tree was usually a cedar. Popcorn, paper stars, pinecones, peppermint candy, and a little mistletoe decorated the tree. Holly berries decked the mantel where you hung your stocking being sure to get a long one.
After the gifts were opened, the music and singing began by the brothers and sisters with everyone gathered around with gratitude.
Last we went to see Aunt Flora and Uncle Doug Johnson who said come on in with a dry grin. A fire was burning but shortly fireworks were put right under our chairs. The Johnson’s laughed as they looked forward to this each year.
Some one said it was sleeting and snowing, so we had to be on our way because Andrew (Jigs) had to be back at camp.
The road into Brown’s Hallow has made a drastic change that the ones traveling it today would not believe. The effort it took to get up that hill which had many curves and deep ruts. It was made to the road leading to the Tracy Lakes and when you started down the hill the car slid and if you didn’t straighten up you were landing in the first pond on the left which Milton said was called “stalk pond.” There wasn’t much fishing in the pond because your lines would always get tangled up.
Andrew made it to his destination and we made another twenty miles home. There were no telephones or television at that time and on our way we talked about Pearl Harbor (12-7-41). We were coming home on Sunday from church on Orange Hill when the news broke on the car radio. As we were headed toward the pond, not a sound was heard. The thoughts of what could have been made our hearts thump.
The true meaning of Christmas is to be remembered again in 2013.
By: Stella Lockhart